Main Street Recommends

Chappell Roan is My Favorite Midwest Princess

By Published On: June 18th, 2024

When my friend first came to me with the plan, it genuinely felt too good to be true. We’d fly into South Carolina the day of Chappell Roan’s show, get ready at the hotel, go to her concert that night, and fly home the following afternoon. This felt all the more surreal considering that Chappell Roan’s career has seen a meteoric rise in recent months; I’ve scrolled through the videos documenting her massive crowds at Gov Ball and other huge music festivals, knowing that she’s launched into stardom in an incredible and awe-inspiring way. 

And for extremely good reason: Chappell Roan has a uniquely powerful ability to command an audience’s attention, teach them dance moves, talk to them very candidly and humbly between songs about how she feels, and, most importantly, sing her songs so beautifully and passionately, while often dancing and strutting up and down the stage.

So, when I was presented with a trip to Columbia, SC, and tickets to see Chappell Roan on Thursday, June 13th, I was giddy. It’s worth mentioning that this show was at one of the smaller venues she had booked, Township Auditorium, before the bigger festivals revealed her true, huge demand. Thus, this felt like a rare opportunity to hear The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess live in a more intimate setting. 

It also quickly became one of those experiences I kept worrying wouldn’t end up happening—a flight would surely get delayed, I’d get sick, the show would be canceled. But then, everything went to plan. We arrived at Columbia’s airport on time, got to our hotel with hours to spare, and found our seats in the venue during the opening act. What I would see and be a part of next was easily one of the best concerts of my life.

Highlights before the show

Two aspects of the show made it really fun right off the bat, before Roan even stepped foot on stage. The first is that she planned different outfit themes for each of her tour dates, and Columbia got the mermaid theme—which is featured in the music video for her song “Casual.” It goes without saying that my friends and I had a blast arranging our mermaid-esque outfits and smudging pink and blue glitter all over our eyes and faces, completing the look with pearls, gems, seashell clips, and beachy jewelry.

After we picked up our merch from the stand at the front of the venue and bought some water (hydration is a concert essential), we made our way to our seats to enjoy the opener. This is the other element my friends and I really appreciated: for this opening act, Roan put the spotlight on three drag queens local to the SC area, Kenya Pleaser, Vertigo, and Gouda Judy.

The energy and pure joy that they brought to the venue as they lip synced and danced across the stage was truly unmatched, and the entire crowd immediately took on this empowered aura, cheering wildly and engaging with each of the queens’ acts. I also was truly inspired by the queens’ commitment to inclusivity and activism that they voiced as a conclusion to their part of the show.

The Midwest Princess takes the stage

Around 9:20pm, the lights went out, which could only mean one thing. Admittedly, I immediately let out a blood curdling scream as Roan’s band walked on, pink and green lights flashing rapidly. Without further ado, Chappell Roan stepped on the stage, visible only in glimpses through the shining strobes. As the lighting changed to a calmer shade of purplish pink, Roan enchanted the audience with the opening lyrics of “Femininomenon.” The entire crowd immediately began to sing along.

From here, she launched into “Naked in Manhattan,” and kept things light and upbeat with another dance-y tune, “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl.” My friends and I couldn’t stop belting out the lyrics from the crowd, even with the knowledge that our shaky voices would be heard in all the videos we took. Roan, on the other hand, sounded perfect, even as she jumped and danced and skipped across the stage in line with the beat and the lyrics.

Roan slowed the vibe down a bit with “Love Me Anyway,” a single from 2020, and then brought out a mic stand and blonde wig to accompany her for her ballad, “Picture You.” I was absolutely blown away by her vocal abilities in this song, which are incredible on the studio recording, but are particularly immaculate in-person.

After taking a fan from the pit’s phone for a BeReal, which she claimed was her “first and only one of those this tour,” she taught the crowd the “HOT TO GO!” dance, preparing us for what would be a once-in-a-lifetime audience experience. Emulating the dance lettering associated with The Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” we all spelled out “H-O-T T-O G-O” with our arms in pure glee. I can’t articulate how truly elated I was to dance along with the song, surrounded by everyone else doing the same thing, while also watching Roan absolutely kill it on stage.

Roan followed this up with “After Midnight,” another cheery tune with an exceedingly groovy energy. Slowing things back down again, the lights went low, and Roan was accompanied solely by her guitar player for “Coffee.”

A truly genuine, heartfelt performer

When her keyboard was brought out for “Kaleidoscope” shortly after this, I could feel the waterworks approaching—it’s definitely the sort of song to which you cry and sway along solemnly. As she began playing the opening chords, Roan very earnestly explained, “I don’t just want you here, I’m not just grateful, but like, I cherish you. Just as you are.” Even knowing how many people follow her now, and how many people are fans of her music, I felt this very personally and deeply. The fact that she manages to make each of the audience members feel seen and appreciated truly sets Roan apart in my eyes. I recognize this as the purple and golden lights glistened on her.

Kneeling down to begin “Casual,” Roan continued to confide in us, making us feel like her friends and not just her fans: “I’m kind of scared. I played two festivals this weekend. I just wanna stay here!” She laughed. “I feel like these shows are just so much more special. ‘Cause I feel like everyone in the crowd knows the songs!” The audience screamed and cheered in support. This candor only made the show feel that much more important.

After this, she performed an unreleased new tune, “Subway.” Her precise vocal abilities and truly impeccable range fully stopped me in my tracks, especially because I had this opportunity to hear something new, live and in-person. She quickly delved into “Red Wine Supernova,” a very real fan-favorite and a lively song that captured the whole audience. From here, she sang her new single, “Good Luck Babe!” and another favorite from The Rise and Fall, “My Kink is Karma.”

Her profound encore, “California” and “Pink Pony Club,” only underscored for me what I already knew. Chappell Roan is a must-see performer, but also a passionate, incredibly skillful singer with the capacity to inspire, empower, and engage all in just an hour-long set. I’ve been a fan of her music since the release of The Rise and Fall in September, and I can’t wait to see what else this star has in store. Chappell Roan has undoubtedly earned her title as THE Midwest Princess.

To listen to the show’s setlist, you can find our playlist here.